I’m vot­ing and you should do it too

Manukau Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JEAN ALLEN

The na­tional elec­tion is less than 40 days away, and the race is on amongst the par­ties and their can­di­dates who are scram­bling for votes and sup­port.

Pre­vi­ous elec­tions have shown us that a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of New Zealan­ders do not vote. Al­though the num­ber is re­ported on, the rea­sons are not. So in this piece, I wanted to tackle some of the rea­sons why I amvot­ing, while also chal­leng­ing some of the ques­tions that I have en­coun­tered when peo­ple say they do not see the point in vot­ing. I amhop­ing by the end of this piece I would have en­cour­aged you to think about why you should vote.

Un­til re­cently I did not have a good an­swer for this ques­tion, I mean I grew up learn­ing about the strug­gles of the Suf­fragettes, the women who protested for the vote and suc­ceeded so now all women in

Why vote?

New Zealand have the right to vote. I also know that be­ing able to vote in a demo­cratic sys­tem is a priv­i­lege that not ev­ery­one in the world gets to do. Look at dic­ta­tor­ships like Syria or Zim­bab­wae where your ev­ery­day per­son does not get a say; they are just told that this is what is hap­pen­ing. Here in Aotearoa, we have an op­por­tu­nity to have a say, to have our voice heard through our right to vote. We are lucky we can make a choice, and be­cause of this, I am­go­ing to vote.

How­ever, who should I vote for?

Per­son­ally, I amyet to find the per­fect party, and I do not be­lieve that there is such a thing as a per­fect party. There are good poli­cies, there are poli­cies that are rel­e­vant to me, and then there are poli­cies that I re­ally couldn’t give a care for. How­ever, this is the na­ture of po­lit­i­cal groups. So how will I de­cide who to vote for? I think of my own ex­pe­ri­ences, my own be­liefs, what is im­por­tant to me and I make my de­ci­sion based on this. Due to a re­cent is­sue with a friend who has men­tal health is­sues, has been re­ferred and can­not be seen un­til Oc­to­ber, I will be look­ing closely at groups that are fo­cus­ing on our health care sys­tem. There has been so much aware­ness around men­tal health in New Zealand, and things need to get bet­ter, so this is some­thing I will per­son­ally be look­ing at. I en­cour­age oth­ers to think about what is im­por­tant to you, what do you want to see hap­pen in our na­tion? Per­haps the party that fo­cuses on these things could be the one you vote for?

But, willmy one vote even count?

I hear this a lot, ‘I am just one per­son’, and yes I agree, but I re­mind my­self that when it comes to vot­ing, in our demo­cratic sys­tem, I am­not alone. I amone of many and if ev­ery ‘one’ per­son votes, my one vote be­comes many and has been heard. My party might not get into power, or my lo­cal politi­cian might not be Prime Min­is­ter, but I think of it this way. My one vote will help to cre­ate a fairer gov­ern­ment by forc­ing the win­ning party to form coali­tions and join forces with my party or oth­ers. So I do not see my vote as not help­ing, my voice mat­ters and my vote does count.

JASMINE JENKE

Jean Allen is a doc­toral stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Auck­land.

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